Now that she’s confirmed, what’s next?

Susan K. Smith.2
Susan K. Smith

 

By SUSAN K. SMITH

Crazy Faith Ministries

 

We watched, some of us with bated breath, the confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, not as much because we were worried that she would not be confirmed – although that was always possible – but because we wanted the racialized harassment she was getting to stop. We wanted her to be asked questions that revealed her judicial brilliance and acumen, not questions that attacked her because she is Black.

The behavior of the Republican senators was predictable but sickening, nonetheless. The most egregious were the comments that came from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas. He made her defense of people imprisoned at Guantanamo an issue and said that her defense of them said to him that had she been on the U.S. Supreme Court after World War II, she might have traveled to Nuremburg not to try but to defend Nazi war criminals, according to The Washington Post.

The brazen arrogance Cotton and the other Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee displayed was not surprising, but it was and is troubling because in spite of her historic appointment to the nation’s highest court, she will be subject to these types of attacks no matter what she does – or does not do.

The question is: how will she respond? Will she become a strong voice for “liberty and justice for all,” challenging decisions that the Court renders that clearly compromise the rights of the masses of marginalized people? Will she, like Justice Sonya Sotomayor, be another voice crying in the wilderness in spite of the fact that the Court has revealed yet again its political ideology that favors conservative issues, or will she remain quiet as the rights of people get trounced on and taken away?

The enmity leveled against her will not abate, but she has to be used to that. In a country where the “rule of law” is a euphemism that means there is a different standard for Black, Brown and poor people in this country, she has seen the tendency toward “injustice for all” in her work as a public defender and federal judge.

The attacks against her were brutal but are colors from the palate being used by Republicans to change or tilt the country away from democracy and toward authoritarianism. I suspect that the words of the senators who attacked her will be the fodder for hundreds of ads that will played running up to the 2022 and 2024 elections. We as a nation will have to hear it all again, if we choose to watch television – and so will Jackson.

There is always a price for being the “first Black” anything, and a bigger price for being the “first Black woman” doing anything in this nation. It is no secret that many Whites resent Black people making strides and succeeding in spite of their very strident attempts to keep us “in our place.” We live in a nation where the South never died and never lost its commitment to its belief that Black people are inferior, are not human and are certainly not “real” Americans. We see the evidence of their venomous belief system everywhere these days, and we saw it in full force during the Jackson confirmation hearings.

What will Jackson do? How will she handle it? There will be no protection for her; no, she will be used as the piñata for Republicans wanting white power to remain and to grow. Their resentment of her being named to the high court is palatable, and they are not about to let their base forget that they believe appointments like Jackson’s represents the sickness of a country that desires to be “woke.” They will push the fear buttons that so many White people live with and that controls them and they will push it no matter how painful – and dishonest – their attacks on Jackson will be.

The prayer is that she is already feeding her spirit with the strength she will need. She is a shero to many, but a shero who will probably honored more in history than in the present. No, while she serves in a capacity for which she is clearly qualified, she will be vilified and used to push racist, sexist and homophobic ideas. She will be used as the banner that will be flown in communities filled with people that the browning of America is a sin against God and an abrogation of American principles.

 

Her struggle – in spite of her confirmation – is only beginning. What we pray for is her triumph over the evil that is a part of the American political tradition. If ever she needed that strength, it is now.

 

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcgloba.net.

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